Let’s face it; there’s no singular path for copywriters. BUT regardless of whether you’re working in-house at a company, running your own freelance business, or writing for an agency, all copywriting jobs likely require similar tasks and responsibilities.
Whether you’re dreaming of a new career or want to set up a booming side-hustle business, having a clear idea of what to expect of the day-to-day for your job beyond your excellent writing skills will be vital to your success.
Here’s the rundown of what copywriting jobs are really like.
1. What’s Expected of a Copywriter
2. Typical Tasks for Copywriting Jobs
3. But It Isn’t Just about Writing
4. Use These Skills to Find Copywriting Jobs
Pull up a standard job description for copywriting jobs; you’ll likely see these responsibilities:
– Write and edit copy
– Collaborate with team members
While these skills generally cover what your boss or client will ask you to do, they don’t really cover the nitty-gritty of copywriting and what skills you’ll be expected to master.
Yes, you’ll write the piece, but you’ll have to consider the overall process of going from an idea or content brief to a final copy ready for publication. It’s important to remember the overall writing process that includes: brainstorming topics, writing, receiving feedback, revising, and editing your work.
Typical tasks for many copywriting jobs include the process of perfecting each piece of content, but there are also skills you need that go beyond the written word. Here’s what you should know about the tasks you’ll need to tackle as a copywriter.”
Topic ideation is basically a fancy way of saying brainstorming. Depending on whether you are an in-house, agency, or freelance copywriter, the degree to which you participate in topic ideation might vary.
If you’re an in-house copywriter, you’ll likely be expected to collaborate with lead generation, demand generation, or product marketing teams to develop content ideas for the work you’ll be producing to help your company achieve its content goals.
As you grow in your job, you may also be asked to help create an overall content strategy that looks at the bigger picture of your company’s content. However, don’t forget that the content itself still needs to be interesting and engaging and serves a purpose other than fitting into the larger puzzle of the content plan.
If you’re working freelance or agency copywriting jobs, brainstorming a topic is an important skill. Your clients might come to you with just a topic, expecting you to build that topic from a small idea to a piece of content that will drive traffic to their website and bring interest to your client’s company.
Your client might also ask you to write blogs or other content appropriate for their company without any specific topics. It will be up to you to come up with topics that are relevant, useful, and engaging to readers.
As with any writing assignment, research is one of the first and most important steps. A successful copywriter is a great researcher as well as a great writer.
Research is essential for topics and clients you haven’t written about before. You’ll need to make sure you have a solid understanding of the topic you’re writing about so that you can write convincingly and accurately for your audience.
Remember, an audience of subject matter experts will smell your BS a mile away if you’re not backing your writing with solid research.
A good copywriter is always expanding their knowledge about a topic, especially if they have ongoing clients in a specific industry or if they plan to specialize in a certain niche. Consider subscribing to trade journals or following industry leaders’ thought pieces on LinkedIn, blogs, or podcasts.
Research is also important for SEO purposes. For example, a good blog post has internal links to blog posts or major pieces of content on your website and external links that connect to your topic or provide further detail.
Internal links: Internal links from your company’s or client’s website can include blogs, larger pieces of content, or main content pages on your website rather than product pages.
By linking between blogs with similar topics or keyphrases, you create a web of content that gives your entire website an SEO lift and can guide your audience’s journey through your website’s content.
External links: External links are just as important as internal links for SEO because they help Google better understand your site and its context.
External links can also help boost your reader’s trust that your content is accurate and truthful. It’s the same as writing a paper in school; quotes, facts, and statistics should be backed up with reputable, reliable sources.
Does anyone remember the CRAP test for source evaluation they might have been taught about in a College Writing course? Currency, Reliability, Authority, and Purpose?
Quick tips for selecting external links: Use this template to narrow your Google search results to .gov, .edu, and .org top-level domains:
site:edu OR site:gov OR site:org "key word or phrase"
Submitting your keyword or phrase in quotes will only return pages where the word/phrase is identified verbatim. Removing the quotes will expand your search results.
Additionally, you can search a specific site for a keyword or phrase, which may help you identify relevant internal links with this template:
Depending on what type of deliverable you’re writing, especially long-form pieces like white papers and ebooks, you might be asked to write a thorough outline to demonstrate your understanding of the topic and the research you’ve done after topic ideation.
Your outline should include any internal or external links you found during the research phase to help remind you to include them in your piece.
When your boss or client doesn’t ask for an outline, which will likely be the case for shorter pieces like blogs, creating an outline will help keep your writing on target and within the scope of your original intent.
Bonus points if you include this outline as part of a content brief to share with your boss or client. Providing your outline within the context of a content brief demonstrates that you have a considerable understanding of the purpose, goals, and targets of the piece you’re writing.
A successful copywriter knows that part of all copywriting jobs includes receiving feedback and learning how to incorporate it into your revisions. You’ll rarely send a piece of content to your designated approver, and they’ll accept it without modifications.
The struggle is learning not to take that feedback personally and remembering that it’s not connected to your overall value. The most crucial part about receiving feedback on your writing is learning to asses the expectations of your boss or client and then shaping your writing to those expectations.
You’ll also need to know how to parse out good feedback from bad. Sometimes, there might be a few too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes time to receive feedback from your client, your boss, or your colleagues.
It’s a copywriter’s job to be able to figure out whose feedback should take priority if there is conflicting feedback and be able to negotiate how to incorporate the correct input into the piece.
Remember that your copy will often go through multiple rounds of revision before it is ready for final editing and publishing.
Not all writers are good editors, and not all editors are good writers.
At your agency or in-house copywriting job, you’ll likely have an editor who will collaborate with you at this stage of the writing process. It is important to remember that an editor’s job is not to proofread your work but rather to help with stylistic errors, create cohesion across the content, and provide feedback on content, structure, tone, and voice.
Before sending your piece to your editor, or anyone giving you feedback on your work, for that matter, you should always thoroughly proofread your writing for spelling, grammar, typos, and any glaring errors.
If you’re working as a freelance copywriter, you’ll likely have to edit your own work. Make sure to give yourself enough time to step away from your piece for a bit before editing it. This will help you see errors that you might not have noticed otherwise.
You can also employ an editing tool like Grammarly to assist you with editing your work. Just remember that, like spellcheck in Word or Google Docs, every tool is flawed and can sometimes present you with false suggestions.
It goes without saying that working copywriting jobs means that you need to be able to write well, research, and do other writing-related tasks. And while this is true, these jobs require a variety of different skills for you to be successful.
Being a copywriter often means balancing multiple projects and deadlines at once, and your boss or your client doesn’t want to hear excuses for when you miss a deadline.
So if you struggle with project and time management, building these skills and having the right copywriting tools to go with them can make your day-to-day go from stressful and feeling like everything is always on fire to easy-breezy-beautiful.
We recommend finding project management tools that allow you to track the status of your assignments. If you’re working with an agency or in-house, you’ll likely have access to your company’s project management software like monday.com, Airtable, or Trello. Using status updates gives everyone visibility into the project’s progress and how your writing assignments are going.
Along with managing your time well, copywriting jobs, like most other jobs, require you to be a great communicator. However, communication isn’t just about how you talk and what you say. A variety of skills will be essential to making you stand out and be effective as a communicator and a copywriter.
Workplace Communication: Effectively communicating with your colleagues, boss, and clients can make or break your work as a copywriter. With email and messaging as the primary form of workplace communication, you have to be clear, concise, and direct to avoid misunderstandings and keep the content review process moving smoothly so that deliverables are published on time.
Active Listening: A good portion of a copywriter’s job is to convey someone else’s thoughts and ideas effectively, so the power of being an engaged listener will help you when it comes time to write. Active listening requires you to pay careful attention to what you’re being told and follow up with questions to ensure your understanding and to build a connection with your colleagues or clients.
Audience Awareness: Another part of a copywriter’s job is communicating ideas effectively, depending on the audience you’re trying to reach. Developing a keen understanding of how your audience likes to be communicated with and the kinds of information they need to know will be essential to creating copy that drives traffic and leads. Try developing personas for clients or projects to help boost your familiarity with your intended audiences.
If you’re a freelance copywriter, having the right skills to run your business will be necessary for your success across all your copywriting jobs or gigs. These skills include understanding the following:
Sales and lead generation: As a freelance copywriter, you have to generate your own leads and gain clients. Avoid simply letting the clients come to you. Instead, you’ll have to foster skills in cold pitching and tracking your leads to get clients.
Finances: Say hello to being your own bookkeeper. This includes understanding taxes, invoicing, and payment schedules, along with knowing how and when to invest in yourself as a business so you can scale.
Marketing: Along with knowing how to close a sale once, you’ll need to have the marketing skills to bring in potential copywriting jobs in the first place. Marketing yourself can include posting regularly on social media like LinkedIn, guest posting on other blogs and websites, and building a comprehensive online portfolio.
This rundown of the responsibilities, tasks, and skills expected at copywriting jobs is by no means exhaustive. Still, it should give you an idea of what to expect, especially when looking for your first copywriting job.
Remember to demonstrate in your cover letters, portfolio, resume, and other materials that you’ve mastered these non-writing job skills and are a value-add to potential employers and clients.
Once you’re on the job and have the lay of the land as either an in-house, agency, or freelance copywriter, using these skills will help you streamline the content review process and make crafting effective content a breeze.
However, you should never forget that your writing skills will always be the first step in being a successful copywriter.
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